Mixed Rifle Finishes Record-Setting Season with Strong Finish
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The University of North Georgia mixed rifle team completed its season at The Citadel on Saturday, Mar. 2 in the Southeastern Rifle Conference (SEARC) championship. The Saints finished third behind two NCAA Division I teams.
Finishing first was No. 13 North Carolina State University with The Citadel just edging out North Georgia for second. Behind the Saints were Wofford College, Clemson University and Georgia Military College. The Saints improved again this year, opening up a larger gap on the trailing teams and narrowing the gap on the top two teams.
Individual conference standings are determined by having the top-8 individuals compete in an Olympic final round competition consisting of ten shots, each fired on command and scored immediately by the electronic targets. This allows spectators to watch the rankings change after each shot. This year's final was very exciting and pressure-packed with very close scores. Often, only one tenth of a point changed the rankings.
Freshman Casadie Bragg shot very well and finished fifth in a field of 73 athletes. A true freshman, she was the only NCAA Division II athlete in the final round of eight, with NC State and Citadel athletes taking the other seven entry slots. In addition to the top Division II spot, she was the second-highest ranked freshman in the conference.
Freshman cadet Andrew Abernathy earned the conference Second Most Improved award by raising his second semester score average 34 points over his first semester average.
UNG's head coach, Tori Kostecki, serves as Director of the conference, hosted the awards ceremony on Saturday evening at the conference banquet, and presided over the conference annual meeting.
All six UNG school records were set during the 2012-13 year, three each for team score and individual score in air rifle, smallbore rifle and combined score. The team set all three team records multiple times this year as they continued to improve. Bragg swept the individual records, the first time one athlete has done so in several years.
Kostecki noted "This is the strongest team we have had in over a decade. We have come a very long way over the past several years. This year, most of our top athletes are freshmen and sophomores so we look forward to raising the bar again next season."
Looking ahead to next season, the tentative schedule already calls for two conference tournaments at home, hosting the second annual North Georgia Invitational at the Ole Mill Range Complex in Griffin, Ga., which will include several college, high school, and junior club teams, along with a full schedule of home and away matches. Coach Kostecki is also organizing the first annual Senior Military College Championship, tentatively planned for this coming season at Virginia Military Institute.